May 26, 2016
Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reached Nagoya, Japan earlier this evening on a four-day official visit to Japan to attend the Outreach Meeting of the G7 nations, a grouping of seven advanced economies, at the invitation of Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe. The Premier will deliver statement in the Outreach Programme on Friday. She will also deliver another statement in the Working Lunch with the G7 outreach leaders. On the sidelines, the HPM will meet the British Prime Minister David Cameron, Sri Lankan President Mirthipala Srisena and her Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.
Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev has come up with effusive praises on the economic surge that elevated Bangladesh into a lower middle income nation and advocated that other countries should emulate such successes to transform their future. The comments were made when HPM Sheikh Hasina paid a call on at the Presidential Palace last week. During the bilateral talks, both sides agreed to formulate a roadmap for future economic cooperation to boost trade and investment between the two countries, and striking four deals to forge, foster and cement the ties.
Given that the country has maintained a consistent growth rate at over 6% for the last four years, the government is hoping that the economy would continue to grow at 7.25% next year. Owing to the formulation and reformation of the overall economic management policies, average life expectancy has gone up over 71 years, per capita income rose by manifold and the country turned out as one of the developing world’s biggest success stories. Now that all the international forecasting agencies are echoing the same view, the nation’s dream to become a higher middle income nation by 2021, as envisaged by HPM Sheikh Hasina, is likely to become a reality now.
As the present fiscal year is drawing to an end with a modest inflation rate, a perception has grown that the rate would be brought down to 5.8% by the end of next year. Prevalence of normalcy in economic environment, coupled with an array of conducive economic management policies, are attributed to that milestone. According to a BBS report, point-to-point non-food CPI inflation decreased to 8.34% in April 2016 from 8.36% a month back.
Due to a strong pre-evacuation campaign that has seen around 2.15 million residents of coastal areas taken to safety, Bangladesh has managed to lessen the aftermath of the deadly cyclonic storm that swept through the costal belts, wreaking devastation on the properties. While the storm caused unexpected flood and landslide, the human cost was lower than other neighboring countries as affected by the cyclone. Over the last six years, stepped up efforts to build resilience against the climate change have put Bangladesh on the global spotlight.
Heads of government and other high officials from around Asia and the Pacific region unanimously adopted a Bangladesh resolution on oceans economy at a UN meeting in Bangkok last week. The resolution titled “Regional cooperation in Asia and the Pacific to promote the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” was adopted by a consensus at the 72nd session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). As part of acknowledging the HPM's initiatives to promote the Blue Economy concept, the Bangladesh resolution contains text in relation to the Sustainable Development Goal 14.
The government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Belgian company to develop the Payra Deep-sea Port project. Payra Port Authority (PPA) Chairman Captain Md Saidur Rahman and Danny Di Hert of Belgian company Jan De Nul signed the MoU on behalf of their respective sides yesterday. Under the deal, the company would carry out major capital dredging and civil engineering work of Rabnabad channel in Kalapara of Patuakhali to make it operational for the deep-sea port.
The Bangladesh government has taken up a mega project aiming to improve the water supply system in Dhaka. If the project is implemented than it will help ensure safe drinking water for low income group of people and help provide constant supply of water to city dwellers. The Dhaka Wasa, with support of the Asian Development Bank, will complete the project by 2021.
Social Justice and Equity
All of the marginalised transgender people living across Bangladesh will be brought under the government’s social safety net programme, expanding the coverage to 64 districts from the current 21. An inter-ministerial meeting has sanctioned the highest ever allocation for the cause, while the monthly allowance will be increased by $2 from next month. Since assuming power in 2009, the Awami League led government has put up a concerted effort to pull out marginalized groups to the mainstream and to help them play a constructive role in the country’s overall development.
A wholesale reform is well underway to turn the relief distribution scheme into an ever more inclusive one, alongside ensuring transparency and maximizing its benefits. To this goal, initiatives like Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) would be shut down and rural rationing, a new approach would be introduced in view of taking the service to the grass root level as well as for the sake of accountability. In addition, decisions were made as regards the expansion in overall allocation while the number of proposed recipients has been at its highest till date.
International and Regional Cooperation
A new chapter of dawn has been ushered in the bilateral landscape between Bangladesh and Jordan, thanks to the first-ever official visit made by the Jordanian Foreign Secretary Mohammad Tayseer Bani Yaseen in Bangladesh last week. At a high level meeting between the envoy and his Bangladesh counterpart, talks took place to enhance cooperation in a range of fields including air services, trade and investment and to consolidate bilateral mechanism through regular Foreign Office Consultations (FOCs).
Japan has struck another deal to give Bangladesh about $3.5 million in another grant-in-aid for human resource development. With this grant, government officials will be sent to Japan for higher and improved studies to enhance their skills, which they will use for the development of different sectors after returning. At the signing ceremony, it was relayed that Japan is also interested in assisting Bangladesh’s human resource development in any other way.
In observance of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, four peacekeepers from Bangladesh, who laid down their lives while serving in the UN peace operations last year, were honoured last Thursday along with 125 other personnel of various peacekeepers contributing countries at the United Nations. Over the last couple of years, Bangladesh has become the world’s second largest troops contributing nation in UN missions.
Power and Energy
Qatar has expressed willingness to engage with Bangladesh on energy cooperation including LNG imports from Qatar, knowledge sharing, technology transfer. The call was floated when Bangladesh’s State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid paid a courtesy call on the Qatari Minister of Energy and Industry Dr Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada in Doha this week. The Qatari Minister also extolled the present Awami League government for driving the country towards the path of progress, braving the global meltdown.
Preparatory works to construct the Rooppur Nuclear power plant, as envisaged by HPM Sheikh Hasina, have been witnessing fast track progress over the last two years. Under the direct supervision of HPM, a high powered delegation from Bangladesh visited Moscow and has successfully concluded negotiations for $11.385 billion Russian credit for the country’s maiden nuclear plant. For the 2,400 MW plant, six services of the plant were exempted from paying Value Added Tax. The services include the use of port while freight forwarding, clearing and forwarding companies and insurance companies are also incorporated.
Food and Agriculture
The World Bank will provide $176.06 million in low-cost loans to Bangladesh to help the country increase its agricultural productivity and create access to markets for more than one million poor farmers, particularly women. In this regard, a memorandum of understanding has been signed while the money will be spent for the cause of achieving food security, improving resilience to climate change, and enhancing nutrition through safer and more diversified food.
As one of the world's leading inland fisheries producers and its aquaculture production, Bangladesh has shown an average growth of 28 per cent with extensive and highly diversified fisheries resources, reveals Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). During the sixth biannual meeting of IORA, Bangladesh was awarded two projects for inland and coastal aquaculture, and exploration of marine flora.
Trade and Investment
Bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Canada is likely to reach $5 billion by 2021 in which RMG sector is presaged to play a key role. According to the trade data, Canada-Bangladesh bilateral trade crossed $2 billion mark for the first time in last fiscal year, while the latter exported products worth $1.48 billion, of which $929 million alone came from apparel products. Canada contributes $7 million to the International Labour Organization (ILO) to help build the government of Bangladesh’s capacity to ensure workplace safety while earlier this year Canada joined the Sustainability Compact.
Bangladesh holds all the key elements to be the most lucrative destination for foreign investors in the Asia Pacific region as China and other rising economies are becoming costlier for doing business, opined speakers at the 4th Bangladesh Investment Summit held in Hong kong. Policymakers of Bangladesh have placed forward an assortment of steps taken by the government to make businesses easier for foreign investors. Now that the country has launched South Asia’s first ever business portal, all the required information are also available online.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives